St John Bosco College at Engadine realised a long time wish when space for a school chapel was finally found this year. After much building refurbishment and creative work by both students and staff, Bishop Peter Comensoli solemnly blessed the new chapel on November 30th.
Picking up the theme from the first mass reading, telling of the rededication of the Jerusalem temple altar in the book of the Maccabees, Bishop Peter urged the college community to remember St Andrew’s day each year as a very special day when a sacred sanctuary was blessed in the very physical and community heart of our school.
The chapel is named after St Francis de Sales, linking it to the history and ministry of the Salesians of Don Bosco in the South Pacific and the world at large. When St John Bosco began his work for destitute boys in mid 19th century Italy, he took inspiration from Francis de Sales who lived a ministerial style of loving kindliness and ready adaptability to the background and needs of people from all walks of life. As Don Bosco set up an enduring foundation for his work for youth in Turin, he dedicated the first purpose-built chapel to St Francis de Sales. Consequently it seemed appropriate that Bosco College would follow its patron’s actions and similarly dedicate its first chapel to the same saint who welcomed all and enthused them with deeper knowledge of the God of love.
The chapel is only large enough to hold one or two class groups, but was designed to open out onto a large balcony which overlooks the main assembly courtyard. Using the balcony as the sanctuary for the ceremony, the whole college community gathered beneath to celebrate the special blessing mass. It also highlighted the new altar, which is beautifully formed from a single slab of oiled timber, resting on a eucalypt trunk pedestal. This natural construction connects the Eucharist with life in the tree lined playground outside the chapel and class rooms, and evokes both an appreciation of living growth and the tree-become-cross on which Jesus died for us. The tabernacle, vestments and sacred vessels were largely donated from other Salesian and Mercy Sisters chapels which have recently closed in Adelaide and Geelong.
Concelebrating with Bishop Peter were the Provincial Elect of the Salesian Australia-Pacific province, the College Chaplain and the priests of the Engadine parish.